A New Arrival

My eyes misted over with tears of joy for you finally arrived. I held you in my arms, first in a warm maternal embrace, then up high for the world to get a glimpse at you…

While writing Maker with a Cause, I often likened the process to pregnancy.

Months 1-2: Waiting to confirm, “Am I really pregnant?” “Are they going to offer me a contract?”

Month 3: Yippee! I’m so excited. “What shall we name her?” There’s so many things to pick out.

Months 4-5:  Wow, I’m gaining quite a bit of weight… (Sitting at a computer day after day, noshing on pretzels and other goodies will do that to you.)

Month 6-7: Trying to convince myself this WILL be worth it.

Month 8: Ugh, I’ve got to go out and buy more clothes, nothing fits.

Month 9: When is this going to be over!!!!

Labor: Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. Smell the flowers, blow out the candles. “Seriously, more copy edits???” “Get it OUT!”

Delivery: “Awww, isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve laid your eyes on?” “I’m so proud!” “Look what I created.”

Well, in honesty, I didn’t create this book on my own. There were so many encouraging family, friends and colleagues along the way. First, and most of all, my husband, Alan for whom the book is dedicated. He is the most supportive, awesome-est husband ever. He schlepped with me to Anaheim, CA to attend a service learning conference. Made me countless cups of tea – the only thing to calm me and keep me focused. And, even while a patient in the neurosurgical ICU with a cerebellar brain bleed/AVM, his first words to me were to encourage me to finish the book when my only thought was – I hope he makes it through the weekend.

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As a mom, I am habitually proud of my children. This past year the roles were reversed as our children, Joseph, Joshua, Jacob and Hannah, were my cheer squad. My sisters managed my husband’s office while I focused on him and finishing edits. (Hint: never trust hospital Wi-Fi.) My niece, Kelly, was my go-to proofreader. Even though she has a full-time job with a commute and a 3-year-old, she managed to find time to help me.

Early on when I had no clue how to read a book contract, Heather Moorefield-Lang and Diana Rendina both came to my rescue patiently answering the most generic questions. Thank you! I am grateful for public libraries for that is where I wrote most of the book. Grateful for the peace and quiet and no eating rules. (Gained too much weight snacking at home!) And grateful for countless librarians and educators across the country who shared stories with me, kept me focused and most of all encouraged me.

At work I am grateful to Heidi Stevens, our FACS teacher, who helped me with many of the sewing projects. Rita Dockswell, who reminded me I know how to crochet. Most of all, it was my principal, Mike Mosca, who let me ‘do my thing’ day in and day out. This level of support allowed me to collaborate with so many to empower our teens to make a world of difference through our MakerCare program.

I hope you’ll love my new arrival as much as I do.

Gina

Squeeze & Relax

MakerCare Lit Connection Series

Today therapy dogs visited our school bringing smiles and respite from a busy week filled with final exams and Regents test prep. I’ve written of my gratitude for therapy animals (yes, dogs and therapy bunny!). Animals can decrease stress in humans. However some students, like me, are allergic to animal fur. The alternatives are hypo-allergenic breeds, social robotic pets or other stress reducers.

Project (Title): Stress Balls

Lit Connection (Test Anxiety):

Check out this list of books

Lit Connection (Service/Therapy Dogs):

Ben: The Very Best Furry Friend, I Know My Name is Love, Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship

Alternative Titles:
PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FAVORITE TITLE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

How To:

You’ll need empty water bottles with caps, Magic Beadz, a teaspoon, funnel and balloons. Pour 1 tsp of Magic Beadz into a water bottle and fill with 2 cups of water. Allow 2-3 hours for beadz to absorb water. Pour out any remaining water. Put balloon over neck of bottle and pour (squeeze, really) the beadz into the balloon. Knot off the balloon. Squeeze and Relax!

Worry Not!

Now that my book, Makers With a Cause, is complete and soon to be released, I finally find myself with time to write about literature connections to some of my favorite maker projects. I started last month with Memorial Day themed books, but now I’d like to focus more on compassionate making (aka #MakerCare) lit connections.

Each month I’ll describe a maker project that espouses compassion, empathy or social action and match it with a book to read aloud or as part of a reading group.

So, here goes…

Project: Worry Dolls

Why: Our kids are stressed out!

“According to the Mayan legend, when worrying keeps a person awake, he or she tells a worry to as many dolls as necessary. Then the worrier places the dolls under his or her pillow. The dolls take over the worrying for the person who then sleeps peacefully through the night. When morning breaks, the person awakens without the worries that the dolls took away during the night.”

When: Anytime, pre mid-term and final testing period, Mental Health Awareness Month (May)

Literature Connection: Silly Billy by Anthony Browne

  

 

Alternative Titles:

Trouble Dolls – Jimmy Buffett & Savanah Buffet

Secrets of Worry Dolls – Amy Impellizzeri (312p novel)

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FAVORITE TITLE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

How To:

Cut one pipe cleaner into 1/3 & 2/3 lengths.

Wrap yarn around your hand several times and slide it through the 2/3 length pipe cleaner. Slide a wooden bead up the bent pipe cleaner holding the ‘hair’ in place. Trim ‘hair’ as desired. Draw face on bead, as desired. Wrap the 1/3 pipe cleaner around the ‘body’ forming ‘arms’. Using yarn, cover the exposed areas of the pipe cleaner

 

Remember

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance; a day when we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

Poppies are a symbol of the sacrifice and courage of our service members. It was during World War I that Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote a poem, “In Flanders Fields“, reflecting and commemorating the sacrifice and loss of life.

in flanders fields

It was Moina Belle Michael, a Georgia schoolteacher, whose perseverance convinced a nation to accept the poppy as symbol of remembrance.

the poppy lady

So as we approach Memorial Day, how will you remember the fallen? Here are a few ideas:

  1. I love the beauty in symbolism displayed in the Missing Man Table tradition. Need a read along companion book? Try this book by Margot Theis Raven, my favorite!

americas white table

2. Make some poppies with your students (or family). One example is of a poppy field after reading A Poppy is to Remember.

a poppy is to remember

3. Dedicate a #POPPYINMEMORY through USAA. Or, experience a poppy field in VR while learning about the causalities of war while on the USAA site.

poppy USAA memorial day

More ideas can be found on The Compassionate Maker: Patriotism/Appreciation LibGuide.

An ELL Holiday Gathering

The week before holiday break an teacher of ELLs and I hosted a bilingual story-time in our high school library. We chose a holiday classic, The Grinch who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. We found many of our students are unfamiliar with Dr. Seuss and common words and phrases such as ‘don’t be a Grinch!’

In addition to this literature based activity, we included cultural and tech activities. And to round out the festivities, a little gastronomic experience as well. Students sipped hot chocolate with whipped cream and nibbled on snacks consisting of Santa cookies and homemade brownies. Students were treated to a VR Santa experience which they enjoyed immensely as a field trip to the North Pole was not in our budget!

None of our students had heard of Chanukah dreidels so we taught them how to play. Using a simple instruction sheet the students, even with limited proficiency, were able to follow along and were delighted to learn how to gamble albeit with Hershey kisses.

All in all we celebrated together and through food, conversation, and friendship we embraced similar traditions while learning new ones.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

A Mother’s Daughter

The week before holiday break an ESL teacher and I hosted a bilingual story-time in our high school library. We chose a holiday classic, The Grinch who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. As part of the festivities we provided hot chocolate with whipped cream and snacks consisting of Santa cookies and homemade brownies.

My daughter, an education major off for winter break, made the brownies while I was at work because I didn’t have time and needed the help. I reflect on this and I’m reminded that I am my mother’s daughter. My mom, a retired first grade teacher, used to ask my sisters and me to cut out shapes and items for her class or bulletin board.

Having grown up providing classroom assistance and now requesting it from the next generation, I wonder will my daughter’s children follow suit.

Just something I ponder over tea and leftover brownies.

You Can Have your Book and Eat it too!

img_2692I love to read. And I love to eat – the sweeter the better.  So a hidden passion of mine is to combine the two whenever possible.

This year  Curious George turns 75; my great-nephew, Nate, turned two. So there was no better idea than to combine these two special birthdays into one celebration. We had a Curious George themed birthday party. Like I did for his first birthday, I made Nate’s cake.  I’ve been baking for Nate since before he was born – starting with The Giving Tree baby shower cake.

When my kids were little, I made a point of celebrating their birthdays – activities, goodie bags, cakes – all themed. We focused mostly on sports or action charaters (ie Power Rangers). Granted there were the ocassional literay themed parties and cakes. Like Harry Potter’s Hedwig in a birdcage cake, Quiddictch broom cookies, and magical invitations. The Wizard of Oz with Emerald City cake resplendent with yellow brick road, poppy field, and adorned with ruby slippers was another of my favorite creations. Yes, I know the shoes should have been painted silver…

I enjoy designing and making cakes, but it’s the literary themed ones that are truly special to me. I see my favorite books and characters develop in all their sweet goodness. Like reading a book, it is a delicious experience.

Bon Apetit!

PS – Happy Birthday Nate the Great! (that’ll be a cake someday…)

*You can have your art masterpieces, too!

Carpe Librum. Seize the Book!

The phone rings at 5:30 am. It means nothing to me. After all, I am married to a doctor the phone rings all hours of the night (and day). “Gina, school’s closed today,” he says. Let that sink in. Hmm, I can catch up on emails, committee work, make soup! So much to do. So much I can get done. Heavy eyelids fade to black. He has to go to work, so I get up and join him for my first cup of tea of the day. There will be many more cups to come – it’s cold out there.

So what did I eventually accomplish? Yes, I did get two loads of laundry done. No, I didn’t make the soup. And the only committee work I attempted was the @YALSA Twitter chat hosted by YALSA President Candice Mack (@tinylibarian) with an update about organizational planning. Well, I’m already on Twitter so I should post some updates, right? And why stop there I should let the Facebook world know what’s up, too. The morning is over and I’ve drank tea and visited social media sites. The best laid plans of mice and men….

I’m sorry, but it’s a Snow Day. I did what needed to be done! I sat on the couch all day and read!!! (And drank tea, of course.) All the Light We Cannot See is our school Staff Book Club pick and I really wanted to finish the book this weekend (even though we’re not discussing it until next month). Forget the soup, vacuuming, emails, spreadsheets. Life is short. We must seize the day or better yet, Carpe Librum, seize the book!

Happy Snow Day!

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